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Studies In Selling: One On One With Victor Park

I spoke to Victor Park, Founding Partner of the SALT Conference and one of the largest hedge fund capital raisers on Wall Street, about his best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your best sales advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. How did you get here?

Victor: On sales advice – you came to the right guy… But to answer your question, I grew up lower middle class, from parents that divorced when I was around 10 years old – we were a mildly dysfunctional family. However, that dysfunctionality gave me a lot of freedom and time.

As we lived in an upper middle class town, I got a paper route at a young age to make money to keep up with my upper middle class friend’s BMX bikes. The paper route was 35 weekly papers and 80 Sunday papers so the route was ok to do during the week but challenging to do on Sunday mornings. But what having a paper route does is it allows you to handle a lot of cash. Handling this cash is when I fell in love with money and sales as I would have stacks of coins and currency bills and each week I knew a big part of my compensation was tips. To this day, even in what is a cashless society, I carry a wad of bills as I still like the smell and feel of money.

What I do now is exactly what Jerry Maguire and Ari Gold do except I am an agent in very specific, cutting edge segment of the financial industry. From a fairly typical educational and Wall Street background, I found this segment of the financial industry as a function of my social network but also as a function of my being a contrarian philosophically. As such, I found the people in my industry to be a lot more entrepreneurial and creative thinkers at a time being conformist to Wall street jobs and/or tech start ups was in vogue. I’m a hard worker as well – just looking at my travel schedule would give you jet lag.

Adam: What is the single biggest sales mistake you have ever made and what did you learn from it?

Victor: The single biggest sales mistake I’ve ever made is to have personal conviction in what I believe in is right for the client. Some salesmen look for fulfillment. Fulfillment comes in representing products that the salesman believes in and genuinely enjoys selling. This is the wrong approach to sales. More specifically, in sales, the only way you know if you’ve done a good job is if your boss says so. Or if the clients says so. Or if your commission runs say so. As a salesman if you believe you’ve done a good job because you “feel” like you did and/or you know in your heart you did a good job, but your commission numbers are down, or your clients are buying from you, you’ve probably done a bad job in monetizing market demand for product.

Adam: In your experience, what are the key pitfalls to succeeding in sales and how can you overcome them?

Victor: Key pitfalls in succeeding in sales is understanding who you are and what is your approach to monetizing your efforts are. Namely, are you a hunter or a farmer? I’m an eat what I kill (hunter) success based salesmen. I work with eat what you kill hunters. These eat what you kill hunters like to go out independently and be paid fat formulaic commissions on what they kill. In my industry, these commissions last for the life of an investment. Being paid for the life of an investment provides for a better alignment of interests as if you stop paying a eat what you kill salesman, he’s going to be the first to move the money to competitor of yours where he can make another commission. In any scenario, eat what you kill hunters are going to be looking to monetize the low hanging fruit.

I also work with farmers. Farmers tend to take a more consultative approach – like planting seeds, watering them, and nurturing a harvest that occurs over a longer period of time over a gentler sales cycle. Farmers tend to want higher base salaries, an expense account but less of a success based bonus.

By knowing if you’re an eat what you kill hunter or a farmer, you can better choose products, teams and sales cycles and approaches that allow you to self actualize and become who you are as when we know better, we do better. But most of all, as a fellow sales team member, believe in the me that believes in you as together we can take people to a place within themselves that they did not get to by themselves – its the power of teamwork and collaboration.

Adam: What are your three best tips when it comes to selling?

Victor: Update your belief systems and increase your level of consciousness and awareness.

Understand the difference between goals and visions.

Get good at doing what needs to get done and thrive on dropping game changer bombs and masterpiece days.

Adam: Describe your sales methodology. Have you found that different types are prospects are responsive to different to types of styles, and if so, do you adapt your style to the type customer you are selling to?

Victor: My sales methodology tends to be premised upon reverse engineering what a customer wants. Hence, I don’t fall in love with products. Instead, I try and identify a market demand for a product. Then I go out and agnostically sign a product to represents that meets that market demand.

I do find there are prospects that respond to different styles. In my world of sophisticated investors, everyone is a know it all. And/or everyone is philosophically rigid about what they are looking for. Hence, its important to understand if the prospects simply want you to listen. Or if the prospect just wants the short answers to 5 questions to determine if it makes sense to move the process forward. Or the prospect that is happy to hear how the product is pitched and assume that the pitch given was the “A” game tied in a neat bow. Net net the more the pitch deviates from the prospects rhythm, the less likely a connection and therefore less likely a sale occurs. But even if a connection didn’t occur, I can circle back around as the agent and get useful intel / feedback that can still get the deal done as my sales cycle is 3-5 meetings and 20 points of contact over 3 to 60 months so I have some creative freedom in the process as when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Adam: What sets your approach apart from others in your industry? Describe your industry and your best tips specific to selling within it.

Victor: Ego dissolution. Ego dissolution separates me from the others in my industry and the others in my field. My industry is almost entirely comprised of entrepreneurs. And there is a lot of money to be made in my industry as folks have what we call a “One and Done.” Or what we call a “Career Year” where one year’s earnings can make you a lifetime of money. When you take the entrepreneurial mindset and you combine it with big money, you get a very egotistical industry. My industry is about one thing – Who’s is bigger. Yes, who’s wallet is bigger, who’s brain is bigger, who’s rolodex is bigger and yes who’s – dick is bigger.

I’m successful, and smart and well connected but I’m Korean American so that may correlate with why my philosophy and approach to selling within the industry is about ego dissolution. I try and be duty driven to harness the power of purpose.

Adam: What do you believe is the hardest step in the sales process and how can it best be navigated?

Victor: The hardest step in my sales process is getting up to speed on the product as there are a lot of moving parts and the products I represent are very particular about how their products are pitched. The best way to navigate the conceptually and philosophically complex pitch is to script it out and let that script iterate based on the response you get from prospects. Complexity is the enemy of execution so you want as many basic tools as possible.

Adam: What are your best tips for improving your close rate?

Victor: In my industry, people like tight marketing presentations, comprehensive due diligence questionnaires and other documents that support the close like audits, references, research and consulting reports. That and sign only the best products to represent at the right times and get lucky. Luck is everything in the scoring the one and done career year as I know a lot of smart folks, hard working folks, connected folks and creative folks. And they all generally do fine. But if you ask me who has the highest close rates, it’s the lucky guy that is in the right place and the right time.

Adam: What is your best advice around making the ask?

Victor: Don’t focus on manufacturing emotion or drama. If you are adding value to the sales cycle you can ask for guidance. Based on the response you get when you ask for guidance you will know when and how to make the ask.

Adam: Language is obviously very important throughout the sales process. What are key phrases or words you have found have helped or hurt your chances of success?

Victor: Key phrases I like are the game changing data points were I tell you something you didn’t know, you didn’t know, you didn’t know. Or I’ll tell you something you thought you knew but didn’t know you didn’t know. Those are the game changers as we know what we know. And we know what we don’t know. So being told something you didn’t know, you didn’t know really moves the needle.

Also:

Spot the glitch in the matrix.

Get good at doing what needs to be done.

Get your rear in gear and don’t try, do.

Screw it. Just do it and the knowing just happens.

Live full and die empty.

Don’t conform, transform.

Yo don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.

Adam: On a scale of 1-10, how important are ethics to succeeding in sales? Explain.

Victor: In my role and in the industry I’m in, ethics is not that important. The investors are very sophisticated and do their own homework – if there are any issues, they’ll discover it quite quickly. Also, there’s enough market share to go around so there isn’t much jealously competitive competition.

Adam: What is your best advice on how to best manage and stay on top of leads?

Victor: Build a top down profile that better allows you to seek opportunities and not security. I co founded a significant conference in my industry. Once that perpetuated my persona through the industry top down, most everyone takes my calls and/or responds to my emails. Hence, the time required to having been the founding partner of a conference and running it each year, allows me to scale and stay on top of my leads much more time effectively than sitting down with as many folks over lunch, dinner, drinks or meetings.

Adam: What is the single best piece of sales advice you have ever received?

Victor: If a man is hungry – you sell him a fish. If a man is hungry and you teach him to fish, well then, you just lost your market base. (Courtesy of Kathleen Madigan.)

Adam: What sale are you proudest of? Walk through how you made it happen and its significance.

Victor: The single sale I’m most proud of is my latest as I’m always striving and never arriving. I try and have the mindset of its what have you don’t for me lately. Any commission trailers I’m earning are for the kids and the lifestyle. But for me the hyper present moments come from the present moment or the present deal I’m chasing. Otherwise, you’re wallowing in your past success and or in the future worrying about your next commission check. Hence, the way to make things happen is stay in the present moment. The significant is, it allows you to be hyper focused where you loose your sense of self and even your sense of time – its like being in nature. When you understand human existence, humans tend to be fearful and anxious beings seeking some form of distraction. Hence, being in the present moment by chasing deals is my medicine.

Adam: What is one thing everyone can do tomorrow to become better at selling?

Victor: Don’t conform, transform. We are in the information age where we are truly living in a Palace of Possibility where gaming changing opportunities to make money abound. So, transform your very being. Take information. Process that information. And monetize that information. Transform your very being by simply seeing yourself as an Information, processing and monetization being.

By transforming your very being, you won’t need to be disciplined, or thick skinned, or high energy as the very belief that you are an information processing and monetization being will drive your behavior. Know that you, won’t reject you. The knowing and the actualizing will just occur the moment you think of yourself as an information processing and monetization being. Greed is good. But information is better.

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